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This is a first, Fangirlish Trek fam! We’ve got music, we’ve got dancing, and even some plot in there. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody” is everything I could have hoped for out of a musical episode of Star Trek. There are many reasons this episode worked for me, but let’s dig into my analysis of the episode first. Here are my thoughts on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody.”
But Why Are We Singing?
Here are a few things you should probably know about me before I dive into the meat of the review. The first is that I have a background in music performance and singing, though I’ve never performed in a musical. I grew up as a band kid, playing sax, and picked up several other instruments along the way. I started singing around late middle school/early high school, mostly because I enjoy it.
Now, when it comes to musicals, I’m still somewhat of a novice, though I do understand the basic structure. The nice thing about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody” is that they explain the structure and rules of musicals within the story. Even if you don’t have any knowledge of musicals, you now understand how they work.
As with any musical, the songs aren’t just songs; they advance the plot. And my goodness, I’m so impressed with all the performances of the Strange New Worlds cast. Aside from the fact that we have three known singing quantities on the show, like Grammy-winning and Tony-nominated Celia Rose Gooding, pop singer Christina Chong, and Rebecca Romijn who has a background in voice (and a real-life affinity for Gilbert and Sullivan), I didn’t realize we had so many singers in our cast. Ethan Peck’s range and Jess Bush’s ability to perform a jazz number blew me out of the water. I’ll be spinning this soundtrack for quite a while after the season’s over.
Speaking of Soundtracks
As mentioned in last week’s “Feels of the Week,” I quite literally fangirled so hard that I nearly fell out of my chair when I learned that Kay Hanley and Tom Polce of Letters to Cleo wrote the music and lyrics for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody.” Kay Hanley’s voice and music had a profound impact on me in high school, as she performed Josie’s vocals and wrote several of the songs on the 2001 film, Josie and the Pussycats. As I’ve mentioned on the site before, I became a better musician and learned to read a scene by watching that film over and over again in my formative years.
The music in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody” encompasses a range of genres, from pop, traditional show tunes, jazz, and power ballads, to a bit of pop punk. The latter of which felt like a nod to Josie and the Pussycats to me. Watching this episode felt like teenage me and adult me high-fived and I’m here for it!
The Literal Emotional Beats
Several of the songs in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody” hit me in the feels, not just because that’s what good music and truly, good art should do, but because of their emotional significance to the overall plot threads we’ve been following this season. La’an’s song “How Would That Feel” broke me. La’an’s difficulty with expressing her emotions and being able to connect with others, combined with her care and attraction to Kirk is embodied so well in that song.
“Keeping Secrets” is also layered with deep meaning, combining Una’s need to hide her Illyrian heritage, with her older sisterly relationship with La’an, who also feels she must hide and keep her true feelings, and really her true self a secret. Then let’s watch Spock get his feels smashed by the catchy jazz number “I’m Ready” from Nurse Chapel. But then his mournful “I’m the X” left me in a puddle of feels on the floor. Not just because of how heartbreaking the song is, but because of Ethan Peck’s insane range, dropping down for those deep bass notes and then moving back up to the top within the same song. I got chills. It feels like the song was written with the express purpose of showing off his range.
I could spend time breaking down each of the songs, but we’ll be here all night, so I’ll spare you that. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with how well each of these songs encapsulates each of the characters’ personalities and emotional states. Hats off to Kay Hanley and Tom Polce for delivering a truly stellar musical soundtrack.
As with all good musicals, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody” keeps the audience engaged, gives us some laughs, and an earworm or two, but also delivers a lot of heart. For Star Trek’s very first musical episode, any further Trek musicals will have a tough act to follow. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to buy the album and join me in saying a prayer for a swift vinyl release.
The only thing I feel Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody” lacked was a Gorn number. I mean, come on, we got the Gorn seeded at the end of episode 2×01 “The Broken Circle.” Surely they’re coming back for the finale, right? I mean, it would have been the perfect opportunity to spoof Spaceballs, which is a spoof of Star Wars, which was technically spoofing Alien in that scene. Who doesn’t love some good meta-humor in their sci-fi? I know I do.
What did you think of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×09 “Subspace Rhapsody”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The season finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will air on August 10, 2023, on Paramount+.